November 17, 2016

Debunked: Do Light or Dark Roasts Have More Caffeine?


Perhaps you’ve heard that dark roasts are denser, so they have more caffeine. Or perhaps you’ve heard that hotter temperatures denature caffeine, making lighter roasts the better pick-me-up. Either way, you’re tired, you have to stay awake, and you have to get lots done. You need caffeine.

Well, today we’re here to put this debate to rest. We’re going to look at the science of which roast will actually give you the biggest buzz.

Light Roast vs Dark Roast

But first, let’s have a look at the differences between the two roast profiles – courtesy of Whole Latte Love.

SEE ALSO: VIDEO: Why Cup Different Roast Profiles?

So Which Has More Caffeine?

Now you know all the differences, it’s time to ask which has more caffeine. It’s a contentious issue, but it all comes down to the temperature that caffeine breaks down at.

Here’s the science: it melts at 238℃/460.4℉ (lower if in a vacuum). And as you just saw in Whole Latte Love’s video, most coffee roasts are between 425-455℉/218-235℃.

So does that mean that, providing your super-dark roast doesn’t go 3℃/5℉ over, they two profiles are equal in caffeine? No, because as Nick Uhas of Nickipedia explains, you also have to take into account the weight and size of the roasted beans. (You’ll also notice that he quotes a much higher figure for the denaturing of caffeine than 238℃/460.4℉, but our fact-checking indicates otherwise.)

SEE ALSO: Omni Roast: Is There One Roast to Rule Them All?

The conclusion? If you’re drinking specialty coffee, and you’re desperate for as much caffeine as possible, you should go for pretty dark (so the density is lower) but not so dark that the roast temperature reached 238℃/460.4℉ (so that the caffeine hasn’t denatured).

Alternatively, you could just order your preferred profile and have a second cup. That works too.

Feature photo credit: Nick Uhas

Please note: Perfect Daily Grind does not own the rights to these videos and cannot be held accountable for their content.

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